John Andrew Perello, known as JonOne, was born in Harlem in 1963. Family and school difficulties forced him to leave home. He discovered graffiti at the age of 17. As he began to tag his name in the streets and on subway trains, he met A-One (or Anthony Clark), close to Basquiat, with whom he learned to consider his work as art, and no longer vandalism. This is a real revelation for street art. According to JonOne, the metro becomes a museum that crosses the city. He sees a shimmering trail of colour and speed left by a subway train. For the young JonOne, his mentor, A-One thus represents a link between the world of the street and that of contemporary art.
A few years later, the young man founded 156 All Starz, a collective of several graffiti artists. Taking the name JonOne, as he is known, the artist moved to Paris in 1987, where he began to paint on canvas. Self-taught, he manages to raise graffiti to the rank of noble art. His painting, which he defines as “abstract expressionist graffiti”, pays particular attention to the agitation and movement of colour, and his works are quickly the subject of exhibitions, not only in Paris, but also in Tokyo, Monaco, New York and Hong Kong. If JonOne’s first tags are similar to simple self-centred and crude assertions, they nevertheless gradually give way to invasive and organic frescoes in a total appropriation of the walls.